Hearne Moving Forward

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Much of this year has been problematic for the city of Hearne. It's been saddled with money problems, and questions about its leadership.

The problems have been addressed, but not solved, yet. The council and city manager have decided to limit the use of city credit cards to address the cities money woes.

Problems began in April. That's when Mayor Ruben Gomez was accused of using a city credit card for personal use. He paid the money back and was cleared of all charges.

Then in June, City Judge Frederick Webber was fired after receiving a warning from the state judicial board. He may be gone, but the city is still looking for a replacement. The list is down to three.

In July, City Manager Ric Walton was reprimanded for sexual harassment complaints filed against him by two city employees.

Mayor Gomez was in the hot seat again in August when a group of residents started a recall petition. But the council voted against a recall election.

More terminations happened in September. City Secretary Dorothy Cooper and three other city finance employees were fired for credit card abuse.

Now city credit card use must go through the city manager.

"The intent of the council and the authority that they've given me is basically to keep all city credit cards under lock and key and only used when absolutely required," says City Manager Ric Walton.

There is fresh pair of eyes on the council. Rev. James Crawford replaced Joe Garcia for the Place five seat. Since then, the council has agreed to take a close look at the city's spending over the past five years.

"I think that's a good step so we can put every body's mind at ease about what has happened in the past with city finances," says Crawford.

Crawford and other council members say they have the resident’s best interest in mind and want to move city business in a positive direction.

"The only real concern they have is to making Hearne a better place to live," says Crawford.